Ten most memorable games in Georgia-Florida football rivalry
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs, the defending national champions, have been the ones celebrating the most in the annual border war lately, winning four of the past five games, including a 34-7 rout last season.
It will be Florida coach Billy Napier’s first game in the rivalry, and while the Gators are 4-3 in his first season, strange things tend to happen in the rivalry formerly known as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
“I can tell you that it is hard to get a feel for how much the players care and feel about the rivalry until you play in it,” Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said. “You can throw records or whatever you want out of the window, more so than any other game on our schedule when we go down there and play Florida. I think Coach Napier is building a good program. I loved him when he was at Louisiana. They are always going to be a force to be reckoned with down there.”
Here’s a look back at the most memorable moments from the rivalry.
1. Nov. 8, 1980: Georgia 26, Florida 21
In a moment that will forever be known as “Run, Lindsay, run,” Bulldogs receiver Lindsay Scott caught a pass from quarterback Buck Belue and ran 93 yards for a touchdown to give the No. 2 Bulldogs a comeback win against the No. 20 Gators. The victory preserved Georgia’s unblemished record — its season would end with a national championship. Freshman running back Herschel Walker ran for 238 yards in the game, but his performance was overshadowed by Scott’s heroics on third-and-11 with less than a minute to play. Legendary Georgia play-by-play radio announcer Larry Munson delivered one of his most famous calls as Scott streaked down the field: “Florida in a stand-up five, they may or may not blitz. Buck back, third down on the eight. In trouble, he got a block behind him. Gotta throw on the run. Complete to the 25. To the 30. Lindsay Scott 35, 40, Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40 . . . Run, Lindsay, 25, 20, 15, 10, 5. Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!”
2. Oct. 30, 1993: Florida 33, Georgia 26
In what was arguably the most controversial ending in the series’ history, Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier believed he had thrown the game-tying touchdown to Jerry Jarmon with five seconds left at the rain-soaked Gator Bowl. But Gators freshman cornerback Anthone Lott signaled for a timeout just before the Bulldogs snapped the ball. The officials awarded Florida a timeout, taking Georgia’s game-tying touchdown off the scoreboard. On the next play, Lott was called for pass interference, giving the Bulldogs one more chance to score. Zeier’s pass to Jeff Thomas fell incomplete, giving the No. 10 Gators another victory in the series. “It seemed like right down there at the end we were just meant to win this game,” Florida coach Steve Spurrier said after the wild ending. “It came down to one or two plays, and fortunately we were able to make them.”
3. Oct. 27, 2007: Georgia 42, Florida 30
Heading into the 2007 contest, Florida had won 15 of the previous 17 meetings in the series, and Georgia coach Mark Richt had dropped five of six. Richt believed his team had simply gone through the motions during its first seven games that season. So, to shake things up, he ordered the Bulldogs to celebrate after scoring their first touchdown against Florida until officials threw penalty flags. If the Bulldogs didn’t, Richt told them, he would “run every one of them at 5:45 a.m.” The Bulldogs listened to their coach. After the Gators lost a fumble on their first possession, Georgia ran the ball nine straight times. Knowshon Moreno scored on a 1-yard run, and then nearly 70 players left Georgia’s bench and wildly celebrated in the end zone. “That thing, it became a bigger mess than I expected it to be,” Richt said the day after the Bulldogs upset No. 9 Florida. “I was envisioning the guys on the field that were on offense to go celebrate until the official threw the flag. I didn’t tell the whole team to run off the sideline and go celebrate. I said I wanted it to be a team celebration. I didn’t really expect the whole mass to run off the sideline. But when they started running, I was like, ‘I guess that is what they heard me say.'”
4. Nov. 2, 2002: Florida 20, Georgia 13
Georgia’s best team in more than a decade, which was ranked No. 5 in the country and would have won the SEC East with a victory, lost its chance at playing for a national championship by falling to a Florida team that had already dropped three games under first-year coach Ron Zook. The Gators proved they didn’t need Spurrier to beat Georgia again. Florida quarterback Rex Grossman threw for 339 yards with two touchdowns, and Georgia receiver Terrence Edwards dropped a wide-open pass with less than three minutes to play that might have tied the score. Making matters worse for Georgia, three other undefeated teams had lost that day. Tight end Ben Troupe, a native of Swainsboro, Georgia, caught the touchdown that put the Gators ahead in the fourth quarter. “This feels good,” Troupe said after the game. “I can go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas now.”
5. Nov. 5, 1966: Georgia 27, Florida 10
The outcome of the 1966 contest might have been the genesis of why Spurrier disliked the Bulldogs so much. Before he was the “Head Ball Coach,” Spurrier was Florida’s star quarterback. In 1966, the Gators were unbeaten and ranked No. 7 in the country. The Bulldogs, under third-year coach Vince Dooley, intercepted Spurrier three times, including one they returned for a touchdown. The defeat cost Florida a chance to win an SEC title, which Georgia shared with Alabama. Defensive linemen Bill Stanfill and George Patton pressured Spurrier throughout the contest. Stanfill, who grew up on a farm in Cairo, Georgia, once quipped that he held pigs while his father castrated them. “I can’t say that helped prepare me for football, but it sure did remind me an awful lot of sacking Steve Spurrier.” Spurrier had the last laugh against the Bulldogs as Florida’s coach; his teams went 11-1 against them.
6. Nov. 8, 1975: Georgia 10, Florida 7
Five years before Munson’s famous call on Scott’s game-winning play, his legend began to take hold with another memorable moment in the series. With Georgia trailing Florida in the fourth quarter at the Gator Bowl, Dooley called a trick play. Tight end Richard Appleby took an end-around, stopped and threw a touchdown pass to Gene Washington for the go-ahead score. “Washington caught it thinking of Montreal and the Olympics and ran out of his shoes right down the middle!” Munson said. “Eighty yards! Gator Bowl rocking! Stunned! The girders are bending now!” Georgia’s defense stopped the No. 11 Gators two more times to preserve the upset. The Bulldogs had run the same play earlier in the season against Vanderbilt, but Appleby, a high school quarterback, kept the ball. Dooley chose to keep the pass option in his playbook until his team played the Gators.
7. Nov. 10, 1984: Florida 27, Georgia 0
On one of the most famous plays in the rivalry’s history, Florida freshman walk-on quarterback Kerwin Bell dropped back into his own end zone and threw a perfect pass to Ricky Nattiel for a 96-yard touchdown to put an exclamation point on the Gators’ beatdown of their rivals. Less than three weeks earlier, the NCAA had placed the Gators on three years of probation for recruiting violations under former coach Charley Pell, who had been fired three games into the season. Interim coach Galen Hall guided Florida to a big upset of the No. 8 Bulldogs, who had won six in a row in the series. Florida fans stormed the field and tore down the goalposts. “You could feel it in the air, that it was Florida’s day,” Gators safety Roger Sibbald said. The Gators would go on to win an SEC title, but it was later vacated by a vote of SEC presidents because of rules violations.
8. Nov. 9, 1985: Georgia 24, Florida 3
A year after Florida upset Georgia, the Bulldogs stunned the Gators, who were ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time in the program’s history. Georgia freshman running backs Keith Henderson and Tim Worley combined to run for three long touchdowns to end Florida’s 18-game unbeaten streak and hand Hall his first loss as the Gators’ coach. Georgia’s defense sacked Bell five times. It was the first time the Bulldogs had ever beaten a No. 1-ranked team. Georgia’s fans, like Florida’s a year earlier, stormed the field and tore down the goal posts in the Gator Bowl. Florida, which was ineligible to win an SEC championship or play in a bowl game because of NCAA probation, had hoped to finish unbeaten and No. 1 in the final AP poll. “We restored order to nature,” Georgia team captain Peter Anderson said after the game.
9. Oct. 28, 1995: Florida 52, Georgia 17
The border war was moved to the schools’ home stadiums in 1994 and 1995 while Jacksonville’s Municipal Stadium was undergoing renovations. After thrashing the Bulldogs 52-14 in the Swamp in 1994, the outcome was worse in Athens, Georgia, the next year. The Gators led 21-0 after the first quarter, 28-3 at the half and 38-3 after the third. Leading 45-17 with just over a minute to play, the Gators threw a pass and scored again. Afterward, Spurrier chirped that he wanted Florida to be the first team to score “half a hundred” at Sanford Stadium. “Someone pointed out to us that nobody had ever come in and scored 50,” Spurrier said. “Isn’t that what you shoot for? To do something that’s never been done?” Florida’s first trip to Sanford Stadium in 63 years wouldn’t be soon forgotten.
10. Nov. 1, 1997: Georgia 37, Florida 17
Under second-year coach Jim Donnan, the Bulldogs defeated the Gators, the defending national champions, for the first and only time when Spurrier was their coach. Georgia, a 20-point underdog, beat Florida for the first time since 1989 and denied Spurrier his 100th victory as a college coach. Georgia tailback Robert Edwards ran for 124 yards with four touchdowns. Spurrier played three different quarterbacks in the game after Doug Johnson was benched for throwing two interceptions in the first half. Noah Brindise and Jesse Palmer each threw picks in the second half. “I just want to say to all Dogs fans that we’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Donnan said afterward. “Everybody has been telling me since I got there, ‘I hope we can beat Florida.’ I’m pleased we did.”